2023-01-25 07:00:14

Sunak, the passive PM, had the chance to tackle the scourge of long Boris Johnson and shirked it

Logo The Guardian
The Guardian
By Rafael Behr

It is a year since Boris Johnson was nearly brought down by the Partygate scandal, and Rishi Sunak was almost brave enough to finish the job. But he didnt, not the first time. Not the second time either. He still hasnt finished the job.

Events were moving fast in January 2022. The stories of lockdown breaches in Downing Street had started appearing the previous November. Each case was followed by a denial; each denial was falsified by new evidence. The prime ministers position was uncertain. Johnson apologised to parliament for attending an oversized gathering in the garden of No 10. He claimed he had thought it was a work meeting.

The chancellor, Sunak, was not in the Commons. He was visiting a factory in Devon, too busy to voice support for his embattled boss. Phone reception was patchy. There was no wifi. The prime minister and his allies interpreted radio silence as the sound of disloyalty.

Sunak inched closer to courage a few weeks later. In heated Commons exchanges, Johnson deployed a wild conspiracy theory that made Keir Starmer, as former director of public prosecutions, somehow responsible for failure to have brought Jimmy Savile to justice.

Continue read on theguardian.com

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